Tag: Mind

On quietness.

Out of the quietness comes clarity

In yesterday’s post Sanity Anchors, I opened by saying, “A few days ago, I exchanged emails with Jon Lavin.  In the early days of Learning from Dogs, Jon used to write the occasional post, one of which seems highly relevant some three years later.  I will republish it tomorrow.”

So here it is, first presented on the 15th July, 2010.


On coming of age

It’s been a partly exhilarating and very scary 12 months since the launch of Learning from Dogs. I can’t remember a time when there has been so much change and uncertainty that hits right down to the foundations of everyone.

Twelve months ago these changes were merely hinted at, and then only to a few in the upper strata of the finance world, from my point of view anyway. How everything seems to have changed now!

Where lies ahead?

Warnings abound about our use of our world’s resources. Our seeming need to procreate without self imposed limit is leading us to a place that coupled with climate change, we will be unable to sustain the current world’s population, let alone the projected increase within 20 years or so. Water is becoming scarce in many parts of the world and so is food.

For those who are awakening from a media-induced slumber which distorts and bends reality to suit who can apply the greatest financial influence and weighting, the reality of the situation we are facing as a planet, is rapidly catching us up.

We still have choices – all is not lost and they will require a highly integrous group of people and thinkers to guide us through the next hundred years or so. In other words, in our children’s or children’s, children’s lifetimes. People who are not driven by the ego, but to serve the highest good.

So what can we do as individuals? Enjoy what we have, perhaps? I think, work on ourselves through awareness and expose ourselves to everything positive and integrous.

Most of our problems lie within, from that thing called an ego, that would rather drive us to death, rather than admit it might be wrong. The world would be an even more positive place if we worked on ourselves and our awareness rather than looking for all the answers ‘out there’, with somebody or something else.

So, how do we work with that? Well, no surprises there really – by bringing in awareness and coming out of the dream state, or nightmare state, depending on how you see things at the moment, and into the Present or Now, as some writers have called it.

How do we do that? It can simply begin by remembering to breathe! So by bringing our awareness to the breath, we come back into our bodies and out of the trance going on in the mind. Approximately 95% of our time is spent in this self-induced trance-like state, by the way.

Think you can’t survive without ‘your mind’ or ‘your thoughts’. There’s no such thing really. By coming out of the mind and back into the body, slowly, with practice and awareness, the noise gently starts to subside and we become aware of spaces of silence or no thought. That is where the answers lie, not in thinking.

The intellect and what we have learned kicks in after the quiet, to allow us to put into action what has come up through the silence.

Most of us have such a huge investment in ‘our thoughts’ or ‘our ideas’. If we could just make the time to sit still, in peace and quiet, so much more would be revealed to us.

So in this brave, new world going forward, to badly quote Einstein, we must aspire to move onto a higher level than the one that triggered this road we are relentlessly pursuing. We need to start becoming aware of the interconnectedness of all beings and focus on activities that are for the highest good, that benefit everyone, rather for the benefit of the few, to the detriment of the many.

By Jon Lavin


So let’s make this new year the year where we all slow down, embrace the peace and quiet, so that a clear world is revealed.

The art of relaxation

Yesterday’s article reminds me of something fundamental!

In Patricia’s guest post of yesterday, she wrote about Chloe, her dog,

Chloe was born knowing. She knows about joy. She knows about living a life in balance. She knows about forgiveness, trust, exuberance, a passion for learning and the power of a good nap.

I was speaking with Jon Lavin a few days ago about the effect of anxiety on memory.  Jon confirmed that as we get older even low levels of anxiety can play games with our mental focus.  He described what many of us know – of walking into a room, for instance, and suddenly realising that you didn’t have a clue as to why you had come into the room!  In a very real sense anxiety is the body’s manifestation of fear.

Jon went on to say that practicing ‘letting go’ for a couple of 10-minute sessions a day is wonderfully therapeutic for the mind.  In fact, when Jon was a guest author for Learning from Dogs he touched on the subject of fear in a post almost two years ago to the day; Dealing with the fear of the known.  Indeed, I’m going to reproduce that article in full – here it is,

Jon Lavin

Can we ever conquer fear?

In a recent article I discussed the fear of the unknown, linked to the down-turn, redundancies, etc.

Per Kurowski, a great supporter of this Blog, posed the following question. “Great advice… but how do we remove the fear of what is known?”  A simple, and slightly flippant answer would be, “Develop a different relationship with it.”

What I’m saying is that when we are facing the known, and I’m assuming that it’s something unpleasant, our choices are limited. It’s going to happen, so the only thing we can do is change the way we view it.

This brings us back full circle to developing a different relationship with it. Let’s take the word, ‘fear’.

All fear is an illusion, walk right through“. I heard Dr David Hawkins say on a CD. Granted, a great trick if you can do it!

Here’s another description of fear: Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear is generally future-based. We tend to use the past as a learning reference to inform us of what to be afraid of in the future. So human beings live their lives trying to predict and prepare for the future, limited by their past experiences.

Unfortunately, the only way to work with fear of the known is to live in the present!

Our whole society is geared up to look into the future. We are forever worrying about or planning something for the future.

To begin focussing on the present, try this.

Simply, to start off, become aware of the breath and sensations in the body. This will slowly start to remind us to be present, or embodied, in our own body. Problems, fear and spiral thinking, often at 3 or 4 in the morning, are generated in the mind. Thoughts occur randomly, although we call them, “Our thoughts“, and refer to, “Our mind“.

By dropping out of the thought processes into the awareness of our breath and our body, the noise stops, even if only for a moment.  Here’s the rub: So very few people in the world will have even the slightest inkling what these words mean!

If more of us got used to coming out of the mind before making an important decision, and simply sat with the question for a while, the answer would probably present itself.

This will probably raise more questions than it answers but that’s not a bad thing.

By Jon Lavin

Difficult to add anything to that very sound advice save to try it out yourself, and if you own a dog or have one as a friend, just look much more closely at how he or she behaves and remember why this blog is called what it is!  Or as Trish wrote,

Chloe was born knowing. She knows about joy. She knows about living a life in balance. She knows about forgiveness, trust, exuberance, a passion for learning and the power of a good nap.

Ah, the power of a good nap!

Puppy Cleo enjoying a good nap!


Is happiness elusive?

Well the first thing that raised a smile was me putting in the word ‘happiness’ into a Google search and noticing the response – About 50,000,000 results (0.15 seconds)!

50 million results – wow.

Let me tell you that I don’t propose to cast myself as anything other than an ordinary Joe.  The simple motivation behind this Post is that if a single person reading these words gets some insight into seeing their own lives in a richer way, then it’s worth while.

Let’s come at the subject from the perspective of good mental health.  What’s that then?

Here’s an extract from MIND – the leading mental health charity in the UK.

From which comes this:

What do we mean by good mental health?

Good mental health isn’t something you have, but something you do. To be mentally healthy you must value and accept yourself. This means that:

  • You care about yourself and you care for yourself. You love yourself, not hate yourself. You look after your physical health – eat well, sleep well, exercise and enjoy yourself.
  • You see yourself as being a valuable person in your own right. You don’t have to earn the right to exist. You exist, so you have the right to exist.
  • You judge yourself on reasonable standards. You don’t set yourself impossible goals, such as ‘I have to be perfect in everything I do’, and then punish yourself when you don’t reach those goals.

If you don’t value and accept yourself, you are always frightened that other people will reject you. To prevent people seeing how unacceptable you are, you keep them at a distance, and so you are always frightened and lonely. If you value yourself, you don’t expect people to reject you. You aren’t frightened of other people. You can be open, and so you enjoy good relationships.

If you value and accept yourself, you are able to relax and enjoy yourself, without feeling guilty. When you face a crisis, you know that, no matter how difficult the situation is, you will manage. How we see ourselves is central to every decision we make. People who value and accept themselves cope with life.

The BBC, often so good at important public service issues, ran a series of programmes in 2008 under the banner of The Happiness Formula.  Included in that web link is a simple test to measure one’s own happiness.

Psychologists say it is possible to measure your happiness.

This test designed by psychologist Professor Ed Diener from the University of Illinois, takes just a minute to complete.

NB: I just tried this test myself and wasn’t sure if the analysis part of the test was working – try it yourself.  But the information offered is still well worth reading.

There’s more background on Prof.  Diener here.  And a short video below.

Perhaps more valuable is another excellent TEDtalks video Habits of Happiness.

Enjoy and smile!

By Paul Handover